This past weekend I completed my 3rd full, 26.2-mile marathon. After finishing such a strenuous task, I realized how much I use strategic thinking to get myself across the finish line.
I prepare my mind and body for months before embarking on such a journey. I begin by figuring out what my “bottom line” is, exactly what it is I want to accomplish. Different runners measure accomplishment in different ways: some may simply want to cross that finish line, while others may try to finish the race in a certain amount of time either for personal gratification or so that they qualify for the Boston Marathon. Marathon runners map out every element of their training programs. Designing their workout regimens, eating plans, and sleep cycles according to their personal goals. They plan out how they will handle elevation changes and how fast they want to run each mile in the race. Every detail of the marathon is planned out very specifically, very strategically, and to the very last detail.
After spending months on the preparation stage, marathon runners apply their strategic planning to the race itself, the 26.2-mile journey. Although the marathon itself can take time, be difficult, and throw unexpected obstacles at the runners, their careful strategic planning allows them to handle any unexpected stumbling block with grace. I have run in races in which I had to deal with inclement weather, health problems, and in one instance, a fractured foot. When runners come across barriers on their path to success, they must strategically alter their carefully laid out plans to still achieve the desired bottom-line. If I had not been flexible during my training program, willing to change, and attentive to what worked best for me and my body, I would not have been able to finish the race, especially in a way that brought about the result I desired.